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Moving To Downtown Chicago? Here’s Your Guide To The Best Neighborhoods

Wednesday, June 6th, 2018

If Chicago has one thing when it comes to luxury apartment rentals, it’s options.

While other cities may have one or two areas populated by the posh, Chicago offers many, each with its own vibe, but all unquestionably vibrant. Be it nightlife or dining, architecture or activities, here’s a look at Chicago’s nicest neighborhoods and what makes them special.

Gold Coast: Bounded by North Boulevard to the north, Oak Street to the south, Lake Shore Drive to the east and Clark Street to the west, Chicago’s Gold Coast is home to historic mansions and remains the domain of Chicago’s old money. The area is one of affluence, from the tiny shops along Oak Street (which branches off the bustling Magnificent Mile) to some of the greatest steakhouses in a city full of them. Rush Street’s nightlife district, cheekily referred to by some as the Viagra Triangle, is the place to see and be seen.

Lakeshore East: Tucked into a few blocks between Michigan Avenue, Lakeshore Drive, the Chicago River and Randolph Street, Lakeshore East is the new kid in town. Just north of the Bean, just south and east of Navy Pier and adjacent to the theater district, this unbeatably convenient area — also known as the New East Side — features several skyscraper condominium projects completed since 2006, and several more on the way. Forty percent of the area is greenspace.

Lincoln Park: If high-rises aren’t your thing, Lincoln Park could well be. Separated from the lake by Chicago’s largest park (home to the Lincoln Park Zoo, Conservatory and Lagoon), Lincoln Park, with its tree-lined streets of brownstones and greystones, offers more charm and intimacy than many others on this list. DePaul University injects some youth, famous blues joint the Kingston Mines some grit, and a plethora of dining options along Halsted Street and Lincoln Avenue add some cultural diversity.

The Loop: West of Michigan Avenue, overlooking Grant Park, Maggie Daley Park, Millennium Park and the Art Institute, Chicago’s Downtown Loop is home to, well, almost everything. Great architecture: Chicago Theatre, Willis Tower and the stunning Rookery Building among countless others. Business: The city’s financial district is there. Culture: Chicago Symphony, Lyric Opera, Joffrey Ballet and Harold Washington Library.

Old Town: In the ’60s and ’70s, it was the city’s bohemian epicenter. Second City, the famous comedy troupe, was born here. The Aragon Ballroom and Uptown Theater host national contemporary music acts. Green Mill Cocktail Lounge is the city’s oldest jazz club. Most of the pubs are on Wells Street. It was among the first city neighborhoods to gentrify, so new and old mix more easily here than in many areas.

River North: A grown-up artists’ enclave, Chicago’s River North is home to galleries, interior design businesses, high-end furniture stores, photography studios and production companies — not to mention the House of Blues. Along Ohio and Ontario Streets, you can mix with tourists; at The Baton Show Lounge with female impersonators; at Frontera Grill and Topolobampo with the foodies. Not much in the way of single-family homes here. This is high-rise living.

Streeterville: With Navy Pier, Hancock Center, Water Tower Place and the rest of the Mag Mile, Streeterville is home to many of Chicago’s most-visited attractions. It’ll be hard not to have a lake view while renting here.

South Loop: The south end of Grant Park, the clubs and restaurants of Printers Row and the museum campus, and McCormick Place’s convention spaces are all easily accessed by the denizens of the South Loop. The loft boom of the ’90s percolated among the old industrial buildings on Michigan Avenue, Wabash Avenue and State Street. Post-bursting of the housing bubble, high-rises have sprung up stretching south toward Soldier Field. “Up and coming” and “funky” are words not unheard here.

West Loop: Randolph Street has some of the best dining in the city. Music spots include the Bottom Lounge and City Winery. Greektown is here. So is Union Station, the city’s commuter train hub. Little Italy is close. Newer than most of the neighborhoods on this list, this former warehouse district has a hipster edge.